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Bill Burns defines U.S. role in the world

During the presidential election campaign, Mitt Romney and his supporters repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for "leading from behind." But this morning at the Newseum, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns offered an alternative description of the mission driving America's conduct of foreign policy.

We're no longer living in a unipolar world, he conceded, but America will continue to play a leading geopolitical role as a "stabilizer, balancer, and global architect." It's a vision to keep in mind as we watch the Obama administration respond to international crises and craft foreign policy over the next four years.

When asked what global threat keeps him up at night, Burns cited the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among state and non-state actors. On balancing strategic moves like the Asia pivot with turmoil in the Middle East, he noted that the "Middle East has a nasty habit of reminding us of its relevance."

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